New York Red Bulls vs Arsenal
Red Bull Arena, New Jersey
Kick off at 17:00 local time, 22:00 UK
Live on Premier Sports in the UK
No Sanchez for Arsenal - Akpom to start
Arsenal fans will have to wait to catch a first glimpse of marquee summer signing Alexis Sanchez in club colours, with the Chile international yet to have started training with his new club following the World Cup.
Sanchez was a £35 million acquisition from Barcelona earlier in July, but will not make his debut just yet. The 25-year-old forward is not a part of the touring party for this solitary game in the USA, but could feature in the Emirates Cup the following weekend.
Arsenal have taken a relatively threadbare squad to New York, with youngster Chuba Akpom the only recognised forward among Arsene Wenger’s number. He is then the first name on the team sheet by default.
Akpom played the entirety of the second-half in Arsenal’s defeat of Boreham Wood, their only other pre-season outing, and it would appear rather likely the 18-year-old will be afforded a start when the Gunners play in New Jersey.
Goalkeepers: Damien Martinez, Wojciech Szczesny
Defenders: Hector Bellerin, Kieran Gibbs, Isaac Hayden, Carl Jenkinson, Ignasi Miquel, Nacho Monreal
Midfielders: Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Abou Diaby, Mathieu Flamini, Kristoffer Olsson, Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky, Jon Toral, Jack Wilshere, Gedion Zelalem
Forward: Chuba Akpom
Goalkeeper and defence
Wojciech Szczesny started the 2-0 win the non-league opposition and there is no reason to think any other than this will happen against the Red Bulls. The Poland international was replaced by Damian Martinez at half-time, and he is the other goalkeeper in the squad.
Arsenal have taken six defenders for this game, with Isaac Hayden and Ignasi Miquel the two most recognised centre-backs. Carl Jenkinson can also operate in this position, and may do so in the second 45 minutes.
At left-back it is a straight choice between Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal and, given that the latter played from the start against Boreham Wood, the Englishman seems to be in contention to do so on this occasion.
Mikel Arteta is set to be given his first taste of pre-season, and will captain the side at the Red Bull Arena. The experienced Spaniard was not in the squad last week, but should resume duties in the US.
Alongside Arteta could be Abou Diaby. The perennially injured midfielder is fit again, and was a substitute against Boreham Wood. Saturday could be his time to return to the starting XI.
Gedion Zelalem, the highly-rated young German, was given 45 minutes in Arsenal’s last outing and Arsene Wenger has confirmed that the 17-year-old will play a part against the Red Bulls. We’re backing him to start once again.
"He will play on Saturday," Wenger told reporters. "Gedion has the qualities that I believe are very important to give in the States because the national team I've seen [is missing them].
“He's a creative player and he can create a spark, an opening with his pass, with his vision through the eyes and if he manages to build up his physique and his qualities, he can be a very important player. Let's hope he will do it."
Santi Cazorla is back training with Arsenal amid speculation about his future and is our tip to make his return against the Red Bulls, while young Swede Kristoffer Olsson could be rewarded for his goal a week ago.
Arsenal predicted XI
Wojciech Szczesny; Carl Jenkinson, Isaac Hayden, Ignasi Miquel, Kieran Gibbs; Mikel Arteta, Abou Diaby, Gedion Zelalem, Santi Cazorla, Kristoffer Olsson; Chuba Akpom.
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